This joint FBI and CISA advisory is essentially an update on the activity of the ransomware gang Scattered Spider which was attributed with the MGM attack in September of this year.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) are releasing this joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) in response to recent activity by Scattered Spider threat actors against the commercial facilities sectors and subsectors. This advisory provides tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) obtained through FBI investigations as recently as November 2023.
Scattered Spider is a cybercriminal group that targets large companies and their contracted information technology (IT) help desks. Scattered Spider threat actors, per trusted third parties, have typically engaged in data theft for extortion and have also been known to utilize BlackCat/ALPHV ransomware alongside their usual TTPs.
The FBI and CISA encourage critical infrastructure organizations to implement the recommendations in the Mitigations section of this CSA to reduce the likelihood and impact of a cyberattack by Scattered Spider actors.
Download the PDF version of this report: A23-320A Scattered Spider
These mitigations apply to all critical infrastructure organizations and network defenders. The FBI and CISA recommend that software manufactures incorporate secure-by-design and -default principles and tactics into their software development practices limiting the impact of ransomware techniques, thus, strengthening the secure posture for their customers.
The FBI and CISA recommend organizations implement the mitigations below to improve your organization’s cybersecurity posture based on the threat actor activity and to reduce the risk of compromise by Scattered Spider threat actors. These mitigations align with the Cross-Sector Cybersecurity Performance Goals (CPGs) developed by CISA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The CPGs provide a minimum set of practices and protections that CISA and NIST recommend all organizations implement. CISA and NIST based the CPGs on existing cybersecurity frameworks and guidance to protect against the most common and impactful threats, tactics, techniques, and procedures. Visit CISA’s Cross-Sector Cybersecurity Performance Goals for more information on the CPGs, including additional recommended baseline protections.
FBI and CISA are seeking any information that can be shared, to include a sample ransom note, communications with Scattered Spider group actors, Bitcoin wallet information, decryptor files, and/or a benign sample of an encrypted file. FBI and CISA do not encourage paying ransom as payment does not guarantee victim files will be recovered. Furthermore, payment may also embolden adversaries to target additional organizations, encourage other criminal actors to engage in the distribution of ransomware, and/or fund illicit activities. Regardless of whether you or your organization have decided to pay the ransom, FBI and CISA urge you to promptly report ransomware incidents to a local FBI Field Office, report the incident to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at IC3.gov, or CISA via CISA’s 24/7 Operations Center (firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-282-0870).
 MITRE ATT&CK – Scattered Spider
 Trellix – Scattered Spider: The Modus Operandi
 Crowdstrike – Not a SIMulation: CrowdStrike Investigations Reveal Intrusion Campaign Targeting Telco and BPO Companies
 Crowdstrike – SCATTERED SPIDER Exploits Windows Security Deficiencies with Bring-Your-Own-Vulnerable-Driver Tactic in Attempt to Bypass Endpoint Security
 Malwarebytes – Ransomware group steps up, issues statement over MGM Resorts compromise
Additional OODA Loop Resources
The MGM Cyberattack Should be a Wakeup Call for Corporate Boards: Will they hit the snooze alarm again?: Our research and tracking of the global information war and the dramatic increase in ransomware attacks over the last three years have been indicating, for some time, that more attacks were coming and that corporate boards and their directors should prepare. The MGM ransomware attack makes this point well. Details here.
Corporate Board Accountability for Cyber Risks: With a combination of market forces, regulatory changes, and strategic shifts, corporate boards and their directors are now accountable for cyber risks in their firms. See: Corporate Directors and Risk
Geopolitical-Cyber Risk Nexus: The interconnectivity brought by the Internet has made regional issues affect global cyberspace. Now, every significant event has cyber implications, making it imperative for leaders to recognize and act upon the symbiosis between geopolitical and cyber risks. See The Cyber Threat
Ransomware’s Rapid Evolution: Ransomware technology and its associated criminal business models have seen significant advancements. This has culminated in a heightened threat level, resembling a pandemic in its reach and impact. Yet, there are strategies available for threat mitigation. See: Ransomware, and update.
Challenges in Cyber “Net Assessment”: While leaders have long tried to gauge both cyber risk and security, actionable metrics remain elusive. Current metrics mainly determine if a system can be compromised, without guaranteeing its invulnerability. It’s imperative not just to develop action plans against risks but to contextualize the state of cybersecurity concerning cyber threats. Despite its importance, achieving a reliable net assessment is increasingly challenging due to the pervasive nature of modern technology. See: Cyber Threat
Proactive Mitigation of Cyber Threats: The relentless nature of cyber adversaries, whether they are criminals or nation-states, necessitates proactive measures. It’s crucial to remember that cybersecurity isn’t solely the responsibility of the IT department or the CISO – it’s a collective effort that involves the entire leadership. Relying solely on governmental actions isn’t advised given its inconsistent approach towards aiding industries in risk reduction. See: Cyber Defenses
The Necessity of Continuous Vigilance in Cybersecurity: The consistent warnings from the FBI and CISA concerning cybersecurity signal potential large-scale threats. Cybersecurity demands 24/7 attention, even on holidays. Ensuring team endurance and preventing burnout by allocating rest periods are imperative. See: Continuous Vigilance